The Hackable Vote

Faulty or manipulated electronic voting machines could affect the outcome of the election.

A vulnerable voting machine.

If current poll numbers translate into votes, then Obama will win the election even if McCain wins all tossup states in addition to his safe and leaning states. Obama can even afford to lose some of the battleground states while McCain can’t afford to lose any of them. According to the impressive statistics at FiveThirtyEight, Obama’s chances of winning are about 96%.

If voting has its regular course, I feel pretty confident that the poll numbers will translate into a win for Obama. I don’t believe in the Bradley effect this time. Obama has probably overcome most of the potential racial objections against him during his spirited campaign.

I even think most voters will be immune to the last minute ”fear and smear” efforts from McCain and Palin. Obama is running an almost unique campaign of goodness and hope – and this time, those feelings seem to be stronger than hate and fear.

The only real concern I have is election fraud, as I wrote the other day. Since then I have found out that I am not just overly worried or paranoid. There is a potential problem, especially with the many different versions of electronic voting machines. I happened to browse into The WIRED blog and found many reports of EVMs not registering votes or even switching them. In some cases, votes may be registerd but not transferred to the appropriate databases.

There are also some frightening videos showing how easy it is to hijack voting machines to steal votes, see a clip from CNN (on YouTube) about the Diebold TS, which is in use in Florida and other places:

If you search the web you will find countless stories of electronic voting machines not reporting the votes correctly. This is one example which gives food for thought:

On the positive side is that many election workers and voters should be aware of the shortcomings of EVMs and hopefully make sure that they report the votes correctly. I also hope that the huge momentum at all levels in the Obama campaign will help convert the opinion polls into actual votes, ensuring a victory margin great enough for the machines not to influence the final outcome.

In this hour, when America and the World is anticipating a clear win for Obama, it is crucial that, if McCain should pull off the surprise win of the millenium, that there are no suspicions of vote stealing by electronic voting machines. There are so many people hoping to contribute to change and a new form of leadership that they could probably not contain their disappointment if their candidate should lose with the sense that their election had been stolen.

Further reading about voting machines on CNN.

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